NEW ORLEANS, LA.-
Featuring installations, paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings, and video, Lifelike explores how artists from around the globe use scale, unusual materials, and sly contextual devices to manufacture "authenticity." Taking as their subject matter commonplace objects such as paper bags, erasers, apple cores, and waiting rooms as well as ephemeral moments, such as afternoon naps, the featured artists create works that are startlingly realistic and frequently playful and surreal. Currently on view at the New Orleans Museum Art
until January 27, 2013, Lifelike invites audiences to closely examine the works on exhibit and to explore the boundary between the "real" and "created."
Lifelike is one of the first museum presentations to specifically gather the work of artists who have eschewed technological advances in favor of meticulous, handcrafted processes, and fused them with the subject matter of the everyday. It includes over 90 works, created from the 1960s to the present, by more than 50 artists, including Vija Celmins, Susan Collis, Keith Edmier, Fischli and Weiss, Robert Gober, Alex Hay, Kaz Oshiro, Charles Ray, and Ai Weiwei. In presenting recent work against a backdrop of 1960s and 1970s artists, Lifelike addresses work by several generations who have laid claim to this territory.
"Although the subject matter of the works explored in Lifelike is subtle and simple, once transformed by the hands of the featured artists, there is a real poignancy that we rarely recognize in the mundane objects and situations of our daily lives," said Susan Taylor, NOMA Director. "That's what makes the experience of this exhibition so exciting and we are delighted to provide the New Orleans community with the opportunity to engage with the works of these artists."
The exhibition explores the many ways artists have pursued handmade realism through a range of media.
Some artists featured, such as Vija Celmins and Peter Rostovsky, paint from photographs, creating immersive surfaces that exhibit an astonishing degree of likeness and detail.
Others work in sculpture, often fashioning their works from materials that belie the pedestrian nature of the subject-Ai Weiwei's jar of hundreds of sunflower seeds, made from hand-painted cast porcelain, or the work of Yoshihiro Suda, who creates weeds that "grow" from the gallery floor, carved by hand from magnolia wood.
In video, artists including Thomas Demand and Jeon Joonho create moving images that at first seem familiar, but deceive us through sly use of animation.
In photography, artists including James Casebere and Isaac Layman play with the hyperreal, through fabricated scenes or clever layering of images.
Most of the artists break from a reliance on technological intervention, creating objects of fixation and desire: Catherine Murphy's details of textured fabric on the seat of a chair, or Ron Mueck's strikingly "real" sculpture-down to the last hair and pore-of human subjects. Frequently these artists work from photographs, but just as often, their inspiration is the observed world, and the notion that a tangible, perhaps ephemeral object or moment can somehow be brought back to life-reinterpreted through the artist's hand as re-made readymades.